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National South Season Preview Part II

Concord Rangers

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 16th
F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy: Finalists
Top Scorer: Decarrey Sheriff (9 goals)

Just over a year ago Concord Rangers were denied a place in the National South playoffs despite finishing in sixth. Thames Road was deemed unsuitable for the next level up and so the Beachboys missed out on a potential big day. Little did the Essex club know they would get their chance to create history and have their big day, even if it’s been put on hold for the time being. Concord Rangers will at some point play at Wembley in the delayed F.A Trophy final against League Two side Harrogate Town, the Beachboys could well create more history.

Manager: Danny Scopes

When Danny Scopes was promoted within the club, following Sammy Moore’s departure last summer, chairman Ant Smith was confident the Concord Rangers boss would give his all. His first season back as boss of the Beachboys ended with a trip to Wembley and so the Essex club couldn’t ask for more. Not only that, Scopes was a former player of the club and previously worked within the youth system. His first spell between 2007 and 2012 was as a joint manager alongside Danny Cowley, when Concord Rangers climbed from the Essex Senior League to the Isthmian Premier League.

Summer

Five players return to the Beachboys this summer after one season away and three of them used to play for the Darts. Alex Wall made an immediate impact after returning to Concord Rangers from Hemel Hempstead Town, the former Dartford striker scored the winner in the F.A Trophy semi-final. Tyrone Sterling and Sam Blackman are the other two former Darts back at Concord RangersBlackman suffered a nasty injury shortly after joining Dartford, keeping him out for the long term. Unable to make his way into the team under Steve King the midfielder is back at Thames Road. Sterling follows the same route as Wall by re-joining from Hemel Hempstead Town as did Tosan Popo. The final returning player is Frazer Shaw who spent a season away at local rivals Chelmsford City. The Beachboys have also signed Ryan Charles from Maldon and Tiptree, Odei Martin (Heybridge Swifts), Sam Remfry (South Park), Nathan Carlyle on a month’s loan from Queens Park Rangers, Tom Hanfrey, a former AFC Bournemouth academy defender and Jason Raad from Aveley.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 5 / Concord Rangers wins: 3 / Draws: 3

Dartford

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 6th
F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round
Top Scorer: Darren McQueen (17 goals)

At the start of last term Dartford were expected to make the top seven, by the end of the campaign they were underdogs in the playoff final. A topsy-turvy campaign saw the Darts battling relegation and joint managers Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle relieved of their duties. Appointing one of the best managers at this level, the club surged up the table and into the playoffs. The Kent club beat Slough Town and favourites Havant and Waterlooville before losing on penalties against Weymouth. Now they are seeking a return to the National League after five years away.

Manager: Steve King

A highly successful non-league manager, Steve King guarantees to bring you entertainment. If he could beat his playoff nemesis King would have even more promotions to his credit. Much of his early managerial career was spent in Sussex where he won the National South title with Lewes, his third promotion in five years with the club. He went on to win another title at Farnborough and embark on F.A Cup runs with Macclesfield Town and Whitehawk. However, for every title there is playoff heartbreak losing finals with Farnborough, Whitehawk, Welling United and last season with the Darts.

Summer

The Darts have been busy in the transfer market making sure there is plenty of competition for places. The first job in the summer was replacing the National South’s joint top scorer from last season Darren McQueen. So in came Jack Barham from Dorking Wanderers, who has also played under King at Welling United and recently Kairo Mitchell, a former Leicester City academy player with experience at Nuneaton Borough and Coalville Town. Coming back to the Darts after seven years away, central defender Connor Essam joined from Hemel Hempstead Town. Since his last spell with the Darts, Essam has played for Dover Athletic, Leyton Orient and Eastleigh. King has signed David Ijaha from Dulwich Hamlet and Gavin McCallum from Welling United who have also worked with the Dartford boss previously. Jazzi Barnum-Bobb has played for three Welsh clubs, Cardiff City, Newport County and Wrexham, the defender joins Dartford’s back line. Winger Ricky Modeste has spent half his footballing career with rivals Dover Athletic and switches to the Darts. Midfielder, Abdul Osman arrives from Queen of the South and has played in the Greek top flight. In goal, Craig King (Oxford City) will be pushed for the number one jersey by Chelsea academy goalkeeper Ethan Wady. The Darts also signed Michael Fernandes on loan from Colchester United.

Dorking Wanderers

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 7th
F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy: 3rd Round
Top Scorer: Jason Prior (14 goals)

The youngest club in the division was formed 21 years ago and have won five league titles and 11 promotions to propel themselves up the pyramid. Last season was their first at National South level and once again the Wanderers were looking forwards and showing their ambitions. The Surrey club finished seventh to have a shot at another promotion. Dorking Wanderers knocked out Bath City in the playoff eliminator round before losing 3-2 to eventual winners Weymouth in the semi-final. They don’t hang around in divisions long and will be looking upwards yet again.

Manager: Marc White

Dorking Wanderers have climbed the non-league pyramid and Marc White has been able to witness their rise from day one. A founder member just over 20 years ago, his club have won 11 promotions and last season he guided the Surrey club to the playoffs in their first ever campaign in the National South. White has overseen the club moving to a new stadium as well as all the on-field success and has had clubs from higher leagues interested in his services, but he has his heart on getting to the Football League with the Wanderers.

Summer

When Alfie Rutherford and Wes Fogden left Havant and Waterlooville they were the last of the group that won back to back promotions with the Hawks. Now the duo will be reunited with Ed Harris and former Dartford striker Jason Prior at Dorking Wanderers, who were also part of that squad. One of the biggest signings, as far as experience goes, is that of Barry Fuller, the former Gillingham full back also made over 200 appearances in the Football League with AFC Wimbledon. Goalkeeper, Sam Howes has made his loan spell into a permanent deal, defender Callum Kennedy signs from Billericay Town and midfielder Kane Willis comes in from Eastbourne Borough.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 1 / Dorking Wanderers wins: 1 / Draws: 0

Dulwich Hamlet

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 19th
F.A Cup: 1st Round
F.A Trophy: 1st Round
Top Scorer: Danny Mills (13 goals)

After a few years of agonisingly waiting persistently knocking on the National South door, Hamlet won the Isthmian Premier playoffs at the fourth time of asking. It was only a matter of time before Dulwich Hamlet succeeded and they did so two years ago. After so much determination the London club will not give their spot up easily in the National South. In their first season at this level they finished fourteenth with healthy crowds since their return to Champion Hill. Last time out Hamlet were concentrating on avoiding the drop finishing in the bottom four.

Manager: Gavin Rose

When last season started, Gavin Rose had just clocked up ten years in charge of Dulwich Hamlet and he’s still going. Hamlet’s longest serving manager admitted the club weren’t living up to their potential when he was appointed and now, he can’t quite believe how far the London club has come. A former midfielder who enjoyed a career including spells at Wimbledon, Charlton Athletic and Queens Park Rangers, Rose guided Dulwich Hamlet to the Isthmian Division One North title in 2013 and won the Isthmian Premier League playoffs in 2018 to earn promotion to the National South.

Summer

Impressive performances at Dartford last term, Tyrique Hyde moves to Dulwich Hamlet after 12 appearances with the Darts. The midfielder follows former Dartford defender, Sanchez Ming who has already had spells with the Hamlet making over 200 appearances for the club in the past. The pair join up with another three signings from Kent clubs, midfielders Michael Timlin moves from Ebbsfleet United and Jordan Higgs from Bromley, in addition to forward Korrey Henry from Welling United. Jesse Debrah spent a loan spell in defence at Champion Hill last season, he completes a move from Championship club Millwall. More excitingly for Hamlet fans is the return of Reise Allassani, the winger scored 16 times in 28 games for the club before being picked up by Coventry City. After some loan spells last season, he is back at Champion Hill.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 2 / Dulwich Hamlet wins: 3 / Draws: 3

Eastbourne Borough

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 18th
F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy: 1st Round
Top Scorer: Greg Luer (8 goals)

If there is a consistent team in the National South then look no further than Eastbourne Borough. Three consecutive eighteenth place finishes they will begin their tenth year in row in this division. Borough drew the most amount of games last season and at one stage completed a sequence of six on the spin. The Sussex club initially struggled in front of goal but managed to find the net in each of their last 11 matches, losing just once but drawing seven. If they want to improve Borough will need to tighten up at the back.

Manager: Danny Bloor

Arriving at Eastbourne Borough as number two to Jamie Howell, Danny Bloor also worked with Mark McGhee and Charlie Oatway as well as Lee Bradbury during their spells as managers. Several candidates went for the Borough job and in the end the Sussex club opted for Bloor to pull everyone together, after difficult times at Priory Lane. Briefed to keep Eastbourne Borough in the National South and re-establish a bond with the supporters, Bloor has started taking small strides forward by making his side tougher to beat as they became draw specialists prior last season coming to a halt.

Summer

Bringing Football League experience to the midfield, Chris Whelpdale signs from Chelmsford City. The 33-year-old has previously represented Gillingham, Peterborough United, Stevenage and AFC Wimbledon. Goalkeeper, Luke Glover scored a winning F.A Trophy goal last season when playing for Haywards Heath Town, he completes a move to the Sports. James Hammond arrives from local rivals Lewes and Mitchell Dickenson joins from Hemel Hempstead Town. From lower leagues, Eastbourne Borough have picked up Charlie Towning (Three Bridges), Joe Kay (Newhaven) and striker Charlie Lambert (Peacehaven and Telscombe). James Vaughan has been studying out in the United States, now he will be playing at Priory Lane this season.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 12 / Eastbourne Borough wins: 6 / Draws: 4

Dorking Wanderers v Dartford

A new ground will be ticked off the list this weekend when Dartford visit Isthmian Premier League champions Dorking Wanderers.

The Darts were in tip top form over the festive period taking maximum points including a convincing double over local rivals Welling United. Hoping to continue the momentum that has lifted Dartford into playoff places, Steve King’s side face a tougher test when they visit Meadowbank.

If the reverse fixture at Princes Park in September is anything to go by, then fans could be in for a treat. Dorking Wanderers ran out victors in a seven-goal thriller, which saw Tony Burman return to the dugout as interim manager. Wanderers scored first when a counter attack was finished from long range by Niall McManus. The Darts took the lead with two Ben Greenhalgh goals in the space of four minutes, then on the stroke of half-time former Dartford striker Jason Prior netted a penalty.

In the second-half, Dartford went in front once again when Charlie Sheringham got on the end of a Ryan Hayes cross. However, in the final six minutes the game swung in Dorking Wanderers’ favour, Giuseppe Sole scored from a free-kick, Lee Noble was sent off and in the final minutes James McShane grabbed the winner.

Dartford managed to score ten goals without reply over the festive season with Elliot Romain and Darren McQueen sharing eight between them. The beginning of a new decade couldn’t have gone any better with the Darts turning over Welling United 4-0 on New Year’s Day. The only change to the starting eleven that beat Tonbridge Angels was Sanchez Ming returning to the side replacing the injured Tyrique Hyde. On loan from Aldershot Town, Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong scored his first Dartford goal in only his second appearance, Elliott Romain added two more to his season’s tally of 11 in 13 games and Darren McQueen scored his tenth of the campaign.

Dartford manager, Steve King told DFCTV that he is pleased with the ‘strides’ his team have taken, but the game versus Dorking Wanderers this weekend could provide more answers, he said: “The test for me now becomes, can we play a team in the top seven and see exactly where we are or where we’re improving or where we’re short?”. He continued: “It will be a tough game, my friend is the owner and manager and he’s done brilliantly. He’s got a good club and players, they are beating everybody at home and have got themselves up to fourth in the division”. Having been out of work before being appointed Dartford boss, King will already know what Dorking Wanderers are about, he explained: “I know how tough it is going to be, I know their players from when I did a bit of commentary work there at the start of the season”.

Dartford’s full back, Liam Gordon has returned to his parent club after ten appearances for the Darts, whilst midfielder’s Lee Noble and Luke Allen may have to wait another two to three weeks before a return. Defender, Josh Hill suffered a dead leg and had his red card successfully appealed against Tonbridge Angels. Hyde has been nursing a bruised heel and Mark Smith will provide competition with in form goalkeeper Alhaji Sesay after recovering from a knee injury.

Dorking Wanderers have risen through the non-league pyramid with five promotions in nine seasons. Founder member of the club, Marc White is the manager and he led the Surrey side to the Isthmian Premier League title last term. This year begun with the Wanderers tasting only their sixth defeat of the season in their first campaign at National South level.

The loss at Eastbourne Borough ended a run of seven consecutive victories in all competitions and their two-month unbeaten run, consisting of seven wins and three draws. During their winning spell they beat playoff challengers Weymouth and Maidstone United, knocked Leatherhead and Bromley out of the F.A Trophy and kept six clean sheets in seven outings.

Looking to complete the double over Eastbourne Borough, following a 4-0 win on Boxing Day against the Sports, White’s side were beaten 3-2 at Priory Lane on New Year’s Day. White made three changes to the side that won 2-0 against Chippenham Town with Sole, McManus and Luke Moore replacing Dan Gallagher, Tom Richards and Jack Barham, who was recalled by Barnet from his loan spell. Matthew Briggs sent Dorking Wanderers 1-0 up at the break, but the second-half belonged to Eastbourne Borough who scored three unanswered goals before Prior grabbed a consolation.

Despite the New Year’s Day setback, Dorking Wanderers are in fourth place a point behind second place and eight adrift of the league leaders. The Surrey club have an exemplary home record taking eight victories from 12. Meanwhile, the Darts are in seventh with an away record of five wins and five defeats from a dozen.

Out of the top ten sides, Dartford and Dorking Wanderers have the worst defensive record, however over the last six matchday’s they have kept seven clean sheets between them, both sides showing signs of improvements at the back. In attack there doesn’t seem to be much of an issue with Wanderers the fourth highest scorers in the National South and the Darts the fifth, helped by Dartford’s Elliott Romain who is joint top of the goalscoring charts and Dorking Wanderers’ Jason Prior who is just two goals behind.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 0 / Dorking Wanderers wins: 1 / Draws: 0

Current League Form

Dartford (WWWLWD) Dorking Wanderers (LWWWWW)
Welling United H 4-0 Eastbourne Borough A 2-3
Tonbridge Angels H 3-0 Chippenham Town A 2-0
Welling United A 3-0 Eastbourne Borough H 4-0
Concord Rangers H 0-1 Maidstone United A 3-2
Billericay Town H 3-2 Weymouth H 1-0
Dulwich Hamlet A 1-1 Welling United H 2-0

Last Six Meetings

07.09.2019 Dartford 3 Dorking Wanderers 4

Stats

Dartford’s 4-0 win against Welling United was the first time the Darts have scored more than three goals in a league game since 24 February 2018 when they beat Truro City 4-1.

The Darts kept a third consecutive clean sheet on New Year’s Day, the first time since April 2018 when they managed four in a row.

Under Steve King, Elliott Romain and Darren McQueen have scored 13 goals in the 9 games when they have both started. The pair have scored 12 in the last 6 in which they were both selected in the starting eleven.

Dorking romped to the league title last season and have settled comfortably in the National South. In 2019 the Wanderers won 31, drew 9 and lost 6 in all competitions.

On This Day

Dartford last won on the 4 January way back in 1986 when they beat Barnet 5-3 at Watling Street, in which is now the National League. The home win rewarded the Darts with two points in the Gola League, bizarrely an away victory was worth three points that season. Victory put some gloss on a difficult period for the club as the financial situation started to unravel, three games later manager John Still resigned. Dartford have played three matches since that triumph, in 1992 they lost 1-0 at Bromsgrove Rovers in the Southern Premier League, were beaten 3-1 at Stamford in the Southern Division One East eleven years later and most recently, lost 2-1 to Kidderminster Harriers at Princes Park five years ago in the National League.

Dartford v Dorking Wanderers

Dartford’s era without Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle begins this weekend when they welcome Isthmian Premier League champions Dorking Wanderers to Princes Park, in the first ever clash between the two sides.

Tony Burman will be back in the dugout for the first time since he quit as manager fourteen months ago. The 61-year-old takes over on an interim basis for the third time and has previously led the Darts to two league titles, a playoff promotion and a couple of Kent Senior Cup triumphs. Since Princes Park opened in 2006, Burman guided Dartford from the Isthmian Division One to the National League, experienced relegation back to the National South and agonisingly missed out on a third league title before leaving as manager.

Ahead of Tuesday night’s game Flanagan reflected on his team’s performance, the joint manager expected a points tally good enough for a top seven spot, but the club has fallen short, he told www.dartfordfc.com: “It has been a frustrating August for everyone involved at the club and our points return hasn’t been to the level we had set”. By the end of Tuesday night, the Darts were looking for their first away win and a new manager.

Defeat at Tonbridge Angels signalled the end of the management duo, who left by mutual consent following the 3-2 loss at Longmead. Continuing from last season Dartford were beginning to rely on home form and searching for improvements, with only two wins from their last 17 league games. The Kent derby against Tonbridge Angels, who were also in the bottom three, became a great opportunity to find that elusive away victory. In came Norman Wabo to the starting eleven, after his three goals in four substitute appearances, Ryan Hayes and Ben Greenhalgh, replacing Darren McQueen, Luke Wanadio and the injured Tom Bonner.

Tonbridge Angels took the lead from the penalty spot, Joe Turner putting his shot past Mark Smith. Falling a goal behind livened Dartford up for the final fifteen minutes of the first half. The Darts were rewarded with an equaliser when Josh Hill pounced on a clearance to make it all square. However, almost straight from the restart the Angels regained their advantage through Turner once more. Charlie Sheringham came on for the second half and made an impact later on with a headed goal, however the Angels edged in front with five to play, Tom Derry scoring the winner.

After the disappointing result, co-chairman Dave Skinner spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk about Flanagan and Coyle’s resignation, he explained: “They’re both stalwarts of the club and have got the club at heart – the same as we have”, he added: “They had a target to meet and they haven’t reached the target. We changed the squad from last season. On paper the squad is very good but somehow it just hasn’t worked. For the quality of the squad we’ve got, we’d expect to be higher up than we are”.

As well as Bonner picking up a groin injury against Hemel Hempstead Town, Sam Blackman remains out with a broken ankle and Mark Onyemah is fairly close to a return after his summer operation, former boss Flanagan commented last week: “Mark has completed one full training session which is a real positive and the hope is that he will be ready to get some match minutes in the next two or three weeks”. Andy Pugh and Billy Crook are out on loan at East Thurrock United, unfortunately the pair picked up injuries in their opening couple of matches for the Essex club.

Jason Prior returns to Princes Park and could lead the line for Dorking Wanderers, the striker top scored for the Surrey club in their title winning season and leads the way this term. The 30-year-old caused heartbreak for Darts fans almost 18 months ago. Prior played 24 times for Dartford during 2013 and scored twice, five years later he scored a dramatic last-minute winner for Havant and Waterlooville, snatching the National South title away from the Darts on the final day.

His latest club has been on the rise winning promotion five times in nine seasons to propel themselves up from the Sussex League Division Three to the National South. Momentum has been with the Wanderers and as recently as July 2018 they moved in to the refurbished Meadowbank Park, formerly home of the disbanded Dorking F.C. Manager, Marc White matches the club’s ambitions of going further up the football pyramid and is a founder member of the club.

White’s side started their first ever campaign in the National South how they finished their championship winning season. Three straight victories at Slough Town and at home to Hemel Hempstead Town, then Tonbridge Angels had the newcomers joint top, the winning streak continuing from last term was stretched to nine consecutive league wins.

However, the Wanderers came down with a heavy bump losing 6-0 to Havant and Waterlooville, the beginning of a winless run. Although Dorking Wanderers bounced back with a point at St Albans City they fell to defeats at home to Hampton and Richmond, then away to Braintree Town. Last weekend they drew 0-0 with Dulwich Hamlet and on Tuesday night they ended their winless streak with victory at home against Chippenham Town, Matthew Briggs netting the winner.

Injuries haven’t helped the Surrey club recently, with last season’s Player of the Year and Club Captain Sami-El Abd rupturing a cruciate ligament, ruling him out for the rest of the campaign. Manager, White was devastated at the news, he told www.dorkingwanderers.com: “Sami is absolutely gutted as is everyone involved in the club. He is our on-the-pitch leader and will be a huge loss for us this season”. Ed Harris and Luke Moore are likely to be out for a couple more weeks and Lewis Taylor for longer with a groin injury.

Current League Form

Dartford (LDDWLL) Dorking Wanderers (WDLLDL)
Tonbridge Angels A 2-3 Chippenham Town H 1-0
Hemel Hempstead Town H 1-1 Dulwich Hamlet H 0-0
Hungerford Town A 2-2 Braintree Town A 2-3
Braintree Town H 2-1 Hampton & Richmond H 0-1
Weymouth A 1-3 St Albans City A 1-1
Chelmsford City A 0-4 Havant and Waterlooville A 0-6

Stats

Dartford have made their worst league start in five years picking up just seven points from nine games. In 2013, the Darts picked up six points in the National League after nine matches (W1, D3, L5).

The Darts are four games unbeaten at home this season (W1, D3) and have lost just once in the league at Princes Park since early December 2018 (W8, D7, L1).

Under Flanagan and Coyle, Dartford’s home record in the National South was Won 9, Drawn 9, Lost 3, but the away form reads Won 6, Drawn 5, Lost 15. In all competitions Dartford Won 20, Drew 15, Lost 21.

Dartford used 47 players in all competitions during Flanagan and Coyle’s fourteen months in charge.

On This Day

The last time a goal was scored in a Dartford game on 7 September was 22 years ago. The Darts beat Clevedon Town 3-1 in the Southern League South Division. The last two fixtures on this day have ended 0-0 both away from home, Fleet Town in 2002 and Chester six years ago in the National League. Currently Dartford are on an unbeaten run of six matches on 7 September stretching back to 1987 when they lost 3-0 away to Chelmsford City in the Southern Premier League. The last home defeat on this day was back in 1964 against Margate, a Southern League Cup tie.

Dorking Wanderers – Season Preview 2019/2020

Dorking Wanderers

2018/19 Season

Isthmian Premier: 1st

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: 1st Round

League Top Scorer: Jason Prior (21 goals) / Average Attendance: 570

A club established just twenty years ago, Dorking Wanderers have been on a rapid rise of late with five promotions in nine campaigns. Confident in his own squad manager Marc White stated he will be making minimal changes to the playing staff. White will be hoping the momentum of winning the Isthmian Premier League will continue but is prepared to bring in players that will strengthen the club. Former Aldershot Town midfielder Jake Gallagher has signed on a two-year contract. The England C international made 159 appearances and scored 10 goals for the Shots and has also played over 120 times for Welling United. Former Dart, Jason Prior secured a third title in three seasons having won two in a row with Havant and Waterlooville before helping Dorking Wanderers last term, once again he top scored and he will remain a Wanderers striker for this season. The step up from the Isthmian Premier has made White make some tough decisions, one of which was releasing Chris Boulter after the former captain spent seven years at the club. Record goalscorer, Tom Tolfrey made just over 200 appearances and netted 154 times for the Surrey Club, he has also left the club as well as defender Robb Sheridan. Dorking Wanderers made a double signing raiding Havant and Waterlooville for the services of defenders Ed Harris and Rory Williams. Harris made over 250 appearances for the Hawks and Williams played just under 150 games, both experiencing back to back league titles before last season’s relegation. 

The Manager – Marc White

Marc White was a founder member of the club in 1999 which started out in the Crawley and District League. White has seen Dorking Wanderers rise up the non-league pyramid and last season move to a new home then clinch the Isthmian Premier League title. Along the way, Wanderers have West Sussex Division Four North as well as the Second Division, the West Sussex Premier League, the Southern Combination Division Three to go with last season’s triumph. White is determined to take Dorking Wanderers into the Football League, an ambitious manager for an ambitious club.

Last Ten Years

 

 

 

Next Meetings

Saturday 7 September 2019 at Princes Park

Saturday 4 January 2020 at Meadowbank